New York Giants

Saquon Barkley? Trade Down? Or Quenton Nelson? The New York Giants Options Expand as the NFL Scouting Combine End

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With the NFL Combine coming to a close in Indianapolis on Monday, bets are being placed as to whom the New York Giants will pick come April when the NFL Draft begins in Arlington, Texas.

Big Blue currently holds the No. 2 pick in the draft, the highest pick they’ve had since 1981. And while it is a fact that quarterback Eli Manning only has a couple of seasons left before he hangs up his cleats for good, that doesn’t mean the Giants necessarily need to (or will, for that matter) draft a quarterback in April.

I think he’s got years left,” first-year Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “How much? I don’t know. But I think he has time left. I think what’s important is we have a guy here that’s helped this organization win Super Bowls.”

So what will New York do?

Honestly, it probably depends on who the Cleveland Browns choose.

With the Browns holding the No. 1 spot, obviously the clear choice for this team, one that has only won a single game the past two years, would be a quarterback. However, given that there isn’t a quarterback that really stood out during the Combine and that the Browns also hold the No. 4th pick, they evidently could pick Penn State’s running back Saquon Barkley – this year’s best prospect and also the player everyone thought Big Blue would wind up with before the Combine ended.

Barkely put up an insane show at the Combine: 4.4-second 44-yard dash, 1.54-second 10-yard split, 29 bench-press reps, and an unbelievable 41-inch vertical jump. So while the Giants might have hoped that the Browns drafted a QB at the first pick (a huge-need for the Browns), odds are Barkley’s unbelievable athleticism will give the Browns no choice but to draft him first and pick at whichever QB options are left when they draft again at No. 4.

Where does that leave the Giants if Barkley is off the board?

Well, luckily for New York, the No. 2 pick is well coveted. They can easily trade down and give up their second place pick for a huge payoff if the right opportunity presents itself.

If not, the Giants still have to address their first priority: their offensive lineup. Since we already know Shurmur is team Manning and also a believer in the potential of Davis Webb, they probably won’t draft one of the QB’s. This leaves them open to pick offensive guard Quenton Nelson from Notre Dame, who they held a meeting with during the Combine.

“In the run game, he is quick out of his stance and has the ability to completely wash opposing players down the line of scrimmage. He rolls his hips on contact, locks on with a powerful grip and doesn’t let up until he’s finished the job. Nelson is very effective when he works up to the second level on combo blocks and pulls. He can adjust in space and he blocks through the whistle consistently. In pass protection, Nelson possesses an immediate anchor vs. power rushers and effortlessly handles twists and stunts. Overall, Nelson has all of the tools to be the best run blocker in the NFL and he’ll be reliable in pass protection. He’s the easiest player to evaluate in this draft class,” says NFL Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah.

Nelson, considered one of the best offensive lineman in his class, is 6-foot-5, 329 pounds and earned the rank of highest graded guard in Pro Football Focus’ lineup. Plus, he already has current Giants defensive tackle Damon Harrison on his side.

Being part of Big Blue, Nelson would be able to not only protect Eli, but also help with run-game issues the Giants undoubtedly have trouble with.

Yeah,” Nelson said Thursday at the Combine, “I would consider myself a nasty player.”

At the end of the day the Giants are in a fortunate place to have many options. From trading down, picking a quarterback, or going with an unlikely No. 2 choice in Nelson – they will be in good hands if Barkley does go to Cleveland.

But hopefully he doesn’t, because Barkley is going to be a star and a huge game changer no matter where he ends up.

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